Microsoft makes some certification exams open book

Microsoft has made some of its certification exams open book affairs, allowing access to its learning portal while candidates sit tests.

“On August 22, we will begin updating our exams so that you will be able to access Microsoft Learn as you complete your exam,” wrote Liberty Munson, director of psychometrics at Microsoft’s Worldwide Learning organization.

Microsoft Learn is a portal that links to product documentation, tutorials, code fragments, and other technical material.

Much of that content will be available during exams, although a technical Q&A service will remain hidden.

The open book exams will be offered to candidates sitting exams for the role-based certifications Microsoft offers for job titles including Azure Administrator, Developer, Solutions Architect, DevOps Engineer; Microsoft 365 Modern Desktop Administrator, and Enterprise Administrator.

Exams at Associate, Expert, and Specialty levels of competency will all offer access to the Learn portal. The material will become available for all role-based and specialty exams, in all languages, by mid-September 2023.

Looking up material on Learn won’t stop the clock during an exam, and the experience of taking the test will remain unchanged – other than allowing candidates to open a window in which to view the educational portal.

Microsoft has taken care to ensure that allowing candidates to view Learn on the web doesn’t allow them to visit a search engine, GitHub or any other internet resource.

On the upside, that means a candidate can’t be distracted by checking in to read the latest news on The Reg as the exam clock runs down.

“This resource is intended to be used for those questions that describe problems where you may need to look something up on Microsoft Learn. It is not something you should be leveraging to answer every question,” Munson wrote.

“Microsoft is committed to improving the overall exam experience to ensure that everyone who wants to take a Microsoft Certification exam can do it without any barriers or hurdles and showcase your expertise for in demand job roles,” the post adds.

Microsoft’s post has generated a lively thread of comments. One post praises the change, because it’s unrealistic to require candidates to memorize information it takes little time to find online.

Others disagree.

“I slogged to get those certifications, having material to hand certainly lowers the bar for new entrants,” wrote one killjoy who totally never looks anything up, we’re sure.

Another commentor recommended that candidates should study itself, so they can find information on the site more quickly during exams.

In an online interview, Munson said [VIDEO] that while the impetus to make the tests open book had nothing to do with generative AI, it did open up opportunities to think about how AI is being used on the job and how that could inform future exams. ®


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